Tales From An Indian Kitchen
For those who love cooking, baking and churning out delicious recipes day after day, the kitchen is their second home. And so it is for Nandi Shah, founder of re:store, which creates naturally flavoured, artisanal baked goods and family recipes. From masala chai powder to sitaphal kheer and dal dhokli, Shah makes flavoursome Indian creations, inspired by her Gujarati heritage and upbringing in Tamil Nadu. “Re:store was born out of the want to recreate a sense of my childhood and the joy and freedom I experienced in learning about, tasting and sharing food. The logo is a symbol of turmeric, which is important in Indian cooking. I started re:store after completing a course in macrobiotics from the Kushi Institute, where the philosophy is about healing and sustenance through food, thereby restoring the body’s balance,” Shah says about the inception of her brand.
It’s quite obvious then that for someone who spends most of her waking hours in a kitchen, it would be her favourite spot — and for her the look of the cooking area is important too. “My space must look beautiful. I need to be surrounded by beautiful objects that inspire me to create delicious food…. Like the dishes I cook, each object has to have a story to tell — a history,” explains Shah. While she loves her collection of pots from all over the country and her antique European coffee grinder, her most-loved gadget has to be her KitchenAid — loved by millions the world over for its sleek design and functionality. “It’s my spouse in the kitchen. It’s consistent, dependable, hasn’t broken down and performs well. I use it to bake cakes or make any kind of dough. And the bright red colour pops!” Shah says. Particularly close to her heart because it’s her “assistant who does so many jobs effortlessly, without talking back”, the KitchenAid is something she’d always yearned for and is glad she invested in it. What’s the one secret she’s discovered about the appliance that she really loves? “It has an attachment — that turns it into a pasta maker!”
Ask Shah whether she prefers the traditional methods of cooking or if technology and its grand designs have taken over her work space, and pat comes the reply. “Some things will always remain traditional. For example, the way food is slow-cooked or cooked in an earthenware pot. This is very important for flavours and fragrances to come out. On the other hand, technology is needed to whip — flambé, for instance. One does not compensate for the other.” And she believes that good layout is an important aspect of food too. “Texture makes a huge difference. It creates that mystery which people then want to discover through their palate.” It’s her mother’s handwritten cookbook (“full of memories and childhood nostalgia”) that’s her prized possession in the kitchen, but there are also items apart from her KitchenAid that Shah absolutely cannot do without. “The weighing scale, for its precision; a rolling pin — being a Gujju, I can’t go far from my rotli; and my Indian masala box — because there’s no life without spice!”